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April 25, 2018
Remembering Ari Dissanayake
Photographs by Tissa Madawela

Ari Dissanayake who was very closely associated with the London Buddhist Vihara and was one of it's chief supporters over many years passed away peacefully in Sri Lanka on 21st April 2018. She was the beloved wife of Late Dr S.B. Dissanayake, loving mother of Lakmalie (Lucky), Shiromalie and Sanjeeva ( London) mother in law of Donnatella, grandmother of Jaime & Cosimo. Ari, a long time resident with a well earned reputation for service to her religion, her former school and to the local community in the UK was compelled to return to Sri Lanka in retirement due to ill health. Her friends in the UK who were deeply saddened by her passing away arranged a 'Mal Pahan Puja' on Sunday the 22nd of April 2018 to remember and pass merits to her. A very representative gathering was present at this simple but dignified ceremony.

Head of London Buddhist Vihara and the Chief Sangha Nayaka of Great Britain Most Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thera in his Anusasana compared the invaluable services rendered by Ari to that of Visakha Maha Upasika, well known great Benefactress of the Buddha. Ari,he said, followed in the footsteps of this great lady doing her best to provide for the needs of LBV. He further said that Ari was a team leader with the ability to get groups of people together and ensure that a task was accomplished.

The Past Pupils Association of Visakha UK participated by offering the 'Mathaka Vathra' for the 'Pan Wedeema' ceremony. This was offered by Mala Polpitiya a Coordinator at LBV who is also the current Secretary of the Association together with the most senior Visakhian in the UK Ruki Shillam. Lakshmi de Zoysa, the Patron of the PPA Visakha, speaking on behalf of the Association and Visakhians recalled her first meeting with Ari over 40 long years ago when she was accosted by Ari to join the new Buddhist Women's Association she was trying to form. Even at that time her heart was in her religion and the desire to support "our temple" in whatever way she could. Her association with Ari developed further when they became founder members of Visakha PPA 35 years ago. She recalled Ari's irreplaceable contribution to making the PPA Visakha association what it is today. Ari was not satisfied with the normal run of activities of such associations .She decided to fill a gap at that time by promoting our culture and heritage drawing on the abilities and skills not only of Visakhians but of the entire community, providing opportunities for many a latent potential to blossom. She said Ari's production of Helapuvatha comes to mind. Only Ari had the courage and the ability to produce such a mammoth stage drama using the local talent in the UK. Ari was not only able she was compassionate, kind and generous. Her heart would melt when she saw anybody in need of help .She firmly believed in grooming the younger generation by giving them opportunities to participate in both Buddhist and Visakha activities. To sum up she quoted from an article on Ari by a friend "Ari will find my personal assessment of her entertaining. Undeniably beautiful and charismatic; supremely talented with a great sense of humour: adventurous and daring in her creative endeavours; imperious, dominating, even bossy; and taking immense pleasure in being in the limelight; inviting and welcoming constructive criticism and touchingly compassionate in relationships."

Pandula Ranatunga described his experiences working with Ari on her various stage productions and other activities. The ceremony ended with the traditional transferring of merit to Ari.

After the Puja, Gilampasa was offered to the Maha Sangha and light refreshments were served to the others, giving opportunities for Ari's friends to remember and recollect their times with Ari.It was a fitting conclusion to a sad but memorable evening.

The entire event was organised by the Temple Coordinators led by Mahal Ratnasiri, Pandula Ranatunga, Mala Polpitiye, PPA of Visakha Vidyalaya and friends of Ari Dissanayake.
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